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25th anniversary of the Disability Discrimination Act

The Act was a huge milestone in the struggle for equality for disabled people and established a statutory duty on public bodies to promote and protect the rights of disabled persons in a number of areas, including Education.

This is a photo of a disabled person receiving support.

Twenty-five years ago this week, disabled people finally had their rights protected by law, in the form of the Disability Discrimination Act. It was passed after many years of struggle and vigorous campaigning by disabled people and was later on incorporated into the Equality Act. At that time, in 1995, Birkbeck had fewer than 200 disabled students. The College now has more than 2,000, making Birkbeck a much more diverse community.

To support these students, a Wellbeing Services Team provides support to students with disabilities, mental health needs, and specific learning differences (SpLDs).  They have:

  • supported over 10,000 students with disabilities, SpLDs and mental health needs;
  • helped over 8,000 students in applying for the Disabled Students’ Allowance;
  • arranged diagnostic assessments for specific learning differences for over 2,000 students.

Additionally, Birkbeck has done extensive work on its estate, ensuring that it has a high level of accessibility and the College is also a member of the AccessAble scheme, used by over 1.5 million people to identify whether a venue is accessible. The recent transition to online learning has also given Birkbeck the opportunity to embed accessibility into its learning and teaching, meaning that courses are more accessible today than ever before.

The College was a member of the Two Ticks Disability Scheme, a recognition given by Jobcentre Plus to employers who agreed action to meet five commitments regarding the employment, retention, training and career development of disabled employees. Birkbeck is also now a Level 2 disability confident employer and has an active staff disability network.

The last 25 years have seen extraordinary development for disabled people in society and this has been mirrored by advances in the provision of services and support at Birkbeck. If you’d like to know more about the 25th anniversary and watch the films on how the Act has empowered disabled people’s lives, please read more here.

Further Information

Read a blog from Birkbeck's Disability Service Manager, Mark Pimm, on what's changed since the passing of the Disability Discrimination Act.

More about Birkbeck's Disabilities support.

Learn about the Library's Disability and Dyslexia service.

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